UIC dialogue courses bring together students from different social identity groups for sustained engagement in credit-bearing courses. These courses employ active and engaged learning, in which students learn from each other, interdependently as they practice listening, asking questions, exploring contentious issues, and making connections with others. With the help of facilitators, students develop guidelines for respectful dialogic engagement, including working with disagreements and conflicts. Facilitators establish an inclusive and involved learning environment, use structured activities to promote reflection and integration of academic content, and model dialogic communication and collaboration.
The UIC Dialogue Initiative emerged from the campus’s multi-year engagement with issues of campus diversity, in conjunction with its Diversity Strategic Thinking and Planning (DSTP) process. Development of the program is guided by the theory and research on diversity, culture, identity, and intergroup dialogue pedagogy.
Intergroup Dialogue happens in four phases: the first includes relationship building among the students. The second includes learning about social identity and processes of socialization, including meritocracy. In the third phase, students use the skills they have acquired to build strong relationships, and the content knowledge thy have gained about social identity, socialization, power, privilege and oppression to think through complex issues (i.e. affirmative action, immigration, gay marriage, religious conflict, etc.). In the final phase, students think about and plan how to work together for justice outside of their IGD class (Nagda, Gurin, Sorensen, & Zuniga, 2009).